While students and their parents have enjoyed the end of their summer break and are hitting the stores for school supplies, the staff at Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools have been hard at work getting ready for when school begins.
Mark Fritz, director of operations for the district, said the operational service department has been engaging in a sprint to wrap up numerous building improvements. Funding for the improvements comes from the 2016 passage of a continuing tax levy for permanent improvement funding for the district, which generates $1.8 million annually for the district. The levy can only be used for capital improvement projects.
One long-term project the operational service department has been working on is the roof at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, which was high on Fritz's to-do list.
"We are doing it in sections," Fritz said in an Aug. 7 interview. "The first section we hope to have done [Aug. 11]. The second section we will do in 2018, and the third in 2019. We also are adding in new windows."
Guests at Joshua's Cafe at the high school will be seated at new tables and can admire the new paint job, Fritz said. Also, the receptionist has a new table, courtesy of one of the staff, Billie Jo Burmeister, who Fritz said was "a great talent with wood." In addition, Brian Atcheson also made some metal pieces for the restaurant, which is used as a part of the culinary program for the Six District Compact.
"His job is mail delivery driving, but he is also a fantastic metal worker, and he made some creations for Joshua's," Fritz said.
Another big project in the works is renovating Kimpton Middle School's auditorium.
"We're doing the seating," he said. "The seats are old, cruddy. We're also doing the hardware. We're adding new armrests."
The improvements to the auditorium, which also will include new carpeting on the floor, cost roughly $100,000, Fritz said. Kimpton students also will see a renovated gymnasium.
"We are replacing the floor," he said. "Last year, we did Lakeview [Intermediate]. This year we are doing Kimpton."
Fritz said the project was delayed by two weeks due to a core sample revealing asbestos, which had to be abated first. He said that he hopes the gym will be open for use by Sept. 1. The need to contain the asbestos also increased the anticipated costs, which are now estimated at $150,000.
A new kiln also was purchased for the middle school, Fritz said.
Woodland Elementary also is having its stage refinished, he said. The electric panel at Highland Elementary also was replaced.
The department also has been paving throughout the district, Fritz said, at about $180,000.
Echo Hills Elementary, as well as new carpeting, has a new storage shed, Fritz said. The shed will be complete at the end of the week, he said on Aug. 7.
Fishcreek Elementary has new carpeting installed in three rooms, Fritz said. In addition, the back entrance to the playground was paved, the gravel replaced.
"Now the kids won't be falling in the gravel, and bringing the gravel into the classroom," he said. "It will be blacktop."
Lakeview, Riverview and Woodland all are receiving new carpeting and playground updates, Fritz said.
"The playground at Riverview is more accessible by wheelchairs," Fritz said.
In addition, "some large trees which were problematic" were removed at Indian Trail Elementary, he said.
Three new buses — two full, 77-passenger buses and a bus for special education students — also have been purchased by the district, Fritz said. The special education bus will be delivered to the district the first week of September, he added.
"That one had to be specially made," Fritz said. "The others we can buy off the shelf."
Students and teachers remembering the sweltering early September last year will be happy to hear that the portable air conditioning units are returning to the buildings without air conditioning. These portable units, along with a generator, will go in Aug. 14 through 16.
"The buildings are tremendously less humid and less hot," Fritz said. "It's less expensive than trying to run electric and duct work for air conditioning. The cost would be astronomical to try to install permanent units."
The units seemed to work well last year, Fritz said.
"Visits to the nurse dropped considerably, as did heat complaints," he said.
In addition, a new chiller will help keep the high school students and staff cool, Fritz said.
"Last year, we were holding [the cooler] together with paper clips and glue," he said. "The original chiller was put in when the high school was built in 1987."
The department also is replacing the old drinking fountains with water bottle filling stations, he said.
Fritz said these improvements done through the permanent improvement levy "are just the tip of the iceberg."
"I’d love, love to get the high school auditorium fixed. There are issues there," he said. "There are plumbing issues at Highland."